Two ways of not existing

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Is there a difference between not existing before we were born and not existing after we die? Why or why not?
     
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  3. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    35 hours without sleep puts me in the perfect frame of mind for this contemplation....

    Prior to being born, we are purely random potential.

    After we die, though the state of not existing may or may not be different for us, the fact that we did exist, albeit briefly, is indelibly stamped upon the memories of those who knew us.

    This is true even in the case of miscarriage and stillbirth, especially for the mother-to-have-been.

    Before conception, only potential.

    After conception, the memory of something, long after it has ceased to be.
     
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  5. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    Difference to whom? While scheherazade makes very valid points as regards objective existence, I would submit that there is absolutely zero subjective difference. I didn't exist before I was born and I won't exist after I'm dead. So to me, personally, no difference whatsoever.
     
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  7. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    It is what we do when we are alive that really matters for before life and after death there's nothing that we can do about anything.
     
  8. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    I agree.
     
  9. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    Since nonexistence has no properties, there can be no difference.
     
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    That's sort of the thought I had in framing this question. Prior to birth we are purely potential. It is not even certain that we technically DON'T exist since there is no us to not exist as yet. Could we be anyone? Any being on the billions of planets out there? And how possible are we UNTIL the right conditions come together that creates us? After we die, to be sure we no longer AS the being we were. But as with prebirth there is no us around for us to NOT be. So could we be as we were before we were born, a pure possibility of being any being whatsover. We would have to decide if the fact of past existing has conditionalized or added restrictions to our own future possibility.
     
  11. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    If you are supporter of reincarnation...now what?
     
  12. Gorlitz Iron Man Registered Senior Member

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    After we've died you can say our lives, no matter how small, have had a affect on existence, before we are conceived you can say they haven't. No to sure about the "before we were born" bit though.
     
  13. Enmos Valued Senior Member

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    I'm sure most of you guys played with Lego once.
    Before, you have a pile of loose bricks. You take some of them and build, say, a car. When you are tired of playing with the car you take it apart again and throw the loose bricks onto the pile.
    Before you built the car, did it exist? No.
    After you've taken apart the car to loose bricks again, does it exist? No.
    Look at the pile before and after. Is there any difference? No.

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  14. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    As long as there has been a material universe, we have always existed and as long as the material universe exists, we will always exist. Before we were born, we were chemicals and after we die we will be chemicals again. Some of the chemical processes which are "us" are not reversible - i.e. some remnant of us lives on in the chemicals in the brains of those around us. In that way, we make an impact on the universe that will last forever.
     
  15. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    God no. At least not willingly. But if after we die we return to a pure state of possible being, what's to keep us from incarnating a first time again just like we did before we were born? In other words, we come into existence again, but only as an entirely different person. This gets a bit tricky though as we are implying some sort of continuity between our selves and the person we become after we die. So what remains continous? A soul? A state of pure potentiality like energy? I don't know. But it's fun to speculate.
     
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    You make an excellent point. There should be no qualitative difference in a pure undifferentiated state of nonexistence. The void from which we sprang before birth is the same as the one to which we return after death. And yet, at the time before your birth, the probability of you coming into existence from this void is..well..100% since you did in fact come into existence. So what are the chances of that happening again after you die? Not very good I'd say. So paradoxically, it seems to the extent that our coming into existence involved a random confluence of factors, like just the right two people mating and just the right sperm uniting with just the right egg etc., then we were way more possible before we were born than after we die.
     
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Hi, MR! I'm glad to see that you're still around.

    The biggest difference that I can think of is that causation seems to be temporally asymetrical and unidirectional in a past => future direction. So our existence doesn't seem to have any causal effect on what came before us, but whatever we do during our lives might end up having lots of effects on whatever comes after us.
     
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Hey how's it goin! I took a year off from this place because I kept getting trolled alot. Seems the place has cleaned up a bit. I also got a laptop--FINALLY! So as regards this topic, yes our existing would seem to put qualifications on our future possibility. By the time we die our lives will have become such a specific set of events and qualities, like DNA, that the chances of us ever coming to be again will likely be astronomically slim. Unless we are ourselves by some inner essence the moment we were born. WERE we ourselves when we were born? Or did it take a whole lifetime to construct this intricate fractal of a person we end up dying as?
     
  19. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

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    Genetic mutation and activation/deactivation ensures we are different genetically; as in a comparison to genes at birth to genes at death. Also we know all the atoms in our bodies are exchanged over smallish cycles? We are a slightly blurred version of what we were born with?
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  20. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    We are sperm and a egg before we are born. We are split DNA I dont call that nothing. And depending on what we believe happens when we die, depends on your "religious" beliefs. Its really what happens between when your born. And when you do "croke".
     
  21. Lakon Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, that's the kind of thing I think too, although I do suspect also, that there may be a similar process beyond the physical.

    But on the physical for the moment, why, you aren't even the person you were 10 years ago - you are a completely different person - all (well, maybe 99%) of your cells have died, and new ones have replaced them.

    So you are really a process rather than a fixed event.

    Edited to add last line.
     
  22. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

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    Shifted, but not beyond recognition.
     
  23. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

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    Once you are you, you will always be you. So you only need the same initial conditions that were present when you were born, once that seed (that makes you exist as you) is there then you will exist no matter how you develop. I don't think that those initial conditions have much to do with the body though, you could be any body since, as you say, there is no identity in nothing, all is the same. I have no idea from a purely scientific perspective what caused nothing to differentiate into different existences, nor what was the process that choose who got to be who.

    There is no future when you don't exist, there is no past either, so your question if there are added restrictions to our own future possibility is meaningless. For you, the world is reset to the state where nothing existed, so time doesn't go on for you when you die, there is no universe when you don't exist (not for you) so there are no possibilities to unfould. Neither was there any before you were born if you didn't exist. From purely scientific reasoning it should really be impossible for you to exist at all, or the world for that matter.

    When you don't exist then you are the same state that were prior to the universe, that were prior to all existence. Or existence is eternal and who knows what it would be to be outside of it, yet you were...so, where does that leave us? Well, naturally you should exist as yourself as if everything has been reset. If there is a eternal non-existence after you die, then there should have been one before you were born as well, but there wasn't, we do know that at least.

    My idea has a flaw though, it calls for individual non-existence, just as we have individual existence. It doesn't seem possible. Yet we do exist as individuals although there was no individual to exist as. Is it a game of chance? Then what is throwing the dice? Could there be some kind of process that actually makes what we call "nothing" a potential something, that is ruled by some kind of law?
     

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